Ezra Castro, one of the Buffalo Bills‘ most well-known fans who created a unique persona known as “Pancho Billa,” passed away on Tuesday after a determined battle with cancer.
Our hearts broken as we have lost our dear brother ezra "Pancho Billa" this morning. We are thankful and forever grateful for all the love and support during this journey. Ezra was surrounded by family and loved ones. At this time we ask for privacy as we mourn our loss.
— Pancho Billa (@PanchoBilla1) May 14, 2019
Ezra Castro, a.k.a. Pancho Billa, Passes Away After Battle With Cancer
Castro, 39, had entered hospice care in late April but was personally involved in the selection of Buffalo’s first-round pick, Ed Oliver. The Bills front office staff, including general manager Brandon Beane, called him in his hospital room and made sure he had a part to play in the selection.
How he became a Bills fan as a Dallas, TX resident who was born in El Paso is an incredibly unique story. As a boy, he looked for a team with similar colors to Mexico’s flag as a celebration of his Mexican-American heritage. Ultimately, it came down to the Bills or the New England Patriots and he eventually chose the former. His father and brother, both named Jaime, are Dallas Cowboys fans.
Eventually, he put together a character that he named Pancho Billa. It was in reference to famed Mexican revolutionary Francisco “Pancho” Villa who made a name for himself in the early 20th century. His costume included a lucha libre mask and a serape, all in the Bills’ red, white, and blue colors along with the team’s buffalo logo.
Castro’s cancer diagnosis came in November 2017. It was around that time that he began feeling numbness in his left arm. He initially thought it was a pinched nerve. But, upon going to the doctor, he received what he termed the “worst news of my life.” A cancerous growth had wrapped around his spine and also spread to his liver, lungs, and lymph nodes.
A month later, Castro underwent surgery to remove the tumor and underwent chemotherapy afterward. At the same time, a GoFundMe page with a goal of raising $30,000 which was easily met. The following April, with the NFL Draft in his hometown of Dallas, he joined Andre Reed and Fred Jackson to announce the Bills’ third-round pick, defensive tackle Harrison Phillips.
Pancho was a pillar of positive strength and energy for me and all of #BillsMafia. He’s been a tremendous inspiration for our team. I was fortunate enough to spend time with him and get to know his story. My heart goes out to his children, friends and family. Viva Los Bills! pic.twitter.com/UFBVMjMWDd
— Kim Pegula (@KimPegula) May 14, 2019
Castro is survived by his partner Veronica Borjon, their two children Ginobili and Lourdes, as well as his mother Aurora Martinez, father Jaime Castro, and three brothers Eli, Jaime, and Zenoc.
Photo credit: Fan Man Weekly